The implications of school choice on travel behavior and environmental emissions

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - vehicle, planning - environmental impact, land use - impacts, policy - environment, mode - bus, mode - school bus, mode - pedestrian


Walking, Walkability, Vehicle exhaust, Trip length, Travel distance, Travel behavior, Schools, School trips, School children, School buses, Proof of concept, Greenhouse gases, Exhaust gases, Exhaust emissions, Environmental impacts, Environmental effects, Bus usage, Bus travel, Automobile exhaust, Air pollution, Air pollutants


We examine the implications of school choice on walkability, school travel mode and overall environmental emissions. In developing this proof-of-concept model we show--and quantify--differences between city-wide schools and their neighborhood school counterpart. Our analysis demonstrates how children attending city-wide schools may have heightened travel distance, greenhouse gas emissions, and exposure to bus fumes. Using available data along with a series of informed assumptions we figure the city-wide school had six times fewer children walking, 4.5 times as many miles traveled, 4.5 times the system cost, and 3-4.5 times the amount of criteria air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. By providing bus service, the overall miles traveled (and resulting emissions) decreased 30-40% compared to the scenario without bus service, however system costs were higher for both the neighborhood and city-wide school (no pollution externality costs were factored in).


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